IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS
Friday-Thursday, 7-13 December, 2012
>>>>>> Clashes follow traffic chaos in Belfast
Trouble broke out tonight in several areas after Belfast was again
brought to a standstill by groups of loyalists demanding the return of
the British flag on Belfast City Hall.
The blockades caused the worst traffic situation in two weeks of
protests. Cars were stopped by as few as three or four flag-waving
loyalists while the PSNI refused to intervene, infuriating motorists.
As the night wore on, violence erupted on the Sandy Road in Belfast,
where hijacked cars were set on fire and fireworks were thrown; and in
east Belfast, where 200 loyalists had massed outside the offices of the
The protests began two weeks ago following the decision of Belfast city
council to reduce the flying of the Union Jack.
The cross-community Alliance Party has become a particular target of
intimidatory loyalist 'protests'. Its support for the decision the
Union flag to fly above City Hall on only 15 commemorative days
triggered the recent trouble. East Belfast MP Naomi Long, who won her
Westminster seat from DUP leader Peter Robinson at the last election,
has become a particular hate figure for unionists.
While the street actions were clearly coordinated, trouble broke out in
an unpredictable manner.
In Carrickfergus, County Antrim, over a hundred shoppers had to be
locked into a Tesco store as a loyalist protest erupted into an intense
Clashes were also reported as loyalists attempted incusions into
nationalist areas, including the intersection of the loyalist Glenbryn
and the nationalist Ardoyne in north Belfast; and in Portadown, where
loyalists threw fireworks and other missiles towards the nationalist
Garvaghy Road area.
Other areas which saw blockades included the Upper Malone Road,
Dundonald, Finaghy Cross, the Dublin Road, the Ormeau Road, the
Beersbridge Road, the Cregagh Road, the Donegall Road, the Shore Road,
the Limestone Road, and the Crumlin Road in Belfast; Lisburn,
Broughshane, Ballyclare and Greenisland in County Antrim; Clough and
Bangor in County Down; Coleraine and Campsie, County Derry; and Lurgan,
The Glendermott Road in Derry city was also blocked by 50 loyalists for
The size and nature of the actions varied significantly, with masked
men hijacking vehicles to block roads in some areas, while others saw
young children involved in small protests.
A joint statement earlier today by DUP leader Peter Robinson and Sinn
Fein's Martin McGuinness, calling on the loyalists to end their
actions, failed to have any effect.
Traders have warned that the protests are endangering business,
particularly in the run-up to Christmas, although shops in nationalist
west Belfast were said to be busy.
In a statement, Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly said "Unionism
needs to show leadership" to those they represent and "stop retreating
to the trenches of sectarian coat-trailing".
He said there had been a misrepresentation by unionist politicians
about "a chipping away at everything British", which he said needed to
be exposed "as the lie that it is".
"Anyone that walks through the City Hall or indeed the surrounding
streets of Belfast will realise that we are coming down with symbols
representative of Britain's past," he said.
"We had the same nonsense from unionists over the marching season when
they described a handful of contentious parades as a conspiracy to stop
all Orange marches.
"No mention of the fact that thousands went ahead without any need of
determinations from the Parades Commission.
"Belfast is no longer a unionist city and it needs to reflect both
Irishness and Britishness with an equality of treatment for each as
envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement.
"Unionists need to get their heads around the fact that Belfast and
indeed the North is a new place and will continue to change."
1. SPIN AND SHADOWS
2. PSNI facilitating loyalist roadblocks
3. Unionists feud in flags blame-game
4. Nationalists arrested amid loyalist disorder
5. Labour party in crisis
6. Protestants decline as 'Northern Irish' increase
7. Analysis: Change comes dropping slow. Oh so slow.
8. Analysis: Catholic tide can't be held back
>>>>>> SPIN AND SHADOWS
Most of the 500-page review of the 1989 murder of Belfast defence lawyer
Pat Finucane released this week has been heavily censored "in the
interests of state security", the Finucane family has been told.
Some of the documents have been so heavily edited that they have been
rendered completely unreadable.
Mr Finucane's widow Geraldine said the family had been given no chance
to examine the documents themselves, and the report by British barrister
Desmond de Silva was a "sham".
"The report doesn't tell me much more than previous inquiries," she
The heavily redacted pages include copies of documents from the British
army's shadowy Force Research Unit, the Stevens II investigation and
Special Branch and British Home Office documentation. Little of what
was revealed has not been made public before, although the report still
had the potential to shock -- particularly in the British political
establishment, which had hitherto largely ignored the collusion between
loyalist killers and British forces in the North of Ireland.
One statistic summed up the level of collusion, in that 85% of the
intelligence received by the loyalist paramilitary UDA in the late 70's
came via the British Crown forces; and that in an 18-month period in the
late 80's, there were 279 "leaks" to the organisation.
Central to the collusion was British army agent Brian Nelson, who became
the intelligence chief of the west Belfast UDA and organised the murder
of Mr Finucane. He is believed to have been involved in at least 15
murders and probably many more and scores of attempted killings.
It emerged from the de Silva report that days after the assassination,
leading members of the west Belfast UDA met in a Shankill Road social
club to discuss killing two more top Catholic lawyers, Oliver Kelly and
Patrick (PJ) McGrory.
An RUC report of intelligence dated February 17, five days after Mr
Finucane was murdered in front of his wife and children, contains
information of plans to attack the two men by the very same death squad.
Next to Mr McGrory's name on the printed British document are the
handwritten words "PIRA/INLA solicitor". Comments made under Mr Kelly's
name have been blacked out by censors. It is clear both men were lucky
to have avoided Mr Finucane's fate.
Other details which are confirmed by the document include;
* How British propaganda had set up Pat Finucane as a target;
* How the RUC suggested Mr Finucane as a potential target and then
failed to act on threats against him;
* How British agent Brian Nelson produced an intelligence report on Mr
Finucane used by the murder gang, carried out a reconnaissance operation
at his home and gave killer Ken Barrett the
* How Nelson was allowed to carry out the Finucane assassination and
other deadly attacks without objection or interference from his
* How Ken Barrett was himself recruited as a British state agent in
1991, and how his briefing to the RUC on the Finucane killing was recorded but
the tape "disappeared".
* How after the murder, the British Army and the RUC continued to give
"highly misleading" information on Nelson and his activities to British
officials and prosecutors.
It was confirmed in the report that information provided by Nelson could
have prevented attacks on the life of Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey in the
late 1980s, including one in which he was wounded and another in which
he escaped a murder bid by just 20 seconds.
One detail which emerged is that at attack against Sinn Fein leader
Gerry Adams was prevented and another cancelled in 1987, ironically
thanks to Nelson's efforts.
Nelson wrote in his journal: "It was told to me by my handlers that the
assassination of Adams, had it gone ahead, would have been
counterproductive, particularly given the delicate balance of power
within Sinn Fein."
One intelligence report author said he feared at the time that the Force
Research Unit, a murderous offshoot of MI5, was pushing for Mr Adams's
The report said the FRU had paid "insufficient regard to the wider
implications of this operation... If the attempt on Adams is to be
repeated particularly before the general election (and Nelson's links to
the army revealed)... then British intelligence and (the government)
could face accusations of having conspired in the murder of a
prospective MP with all the attendant adverse consequence."
It was confirmed that information passed to the Crown forces could have
saved the life of west Belfast man Gerard Slane, who was killed by the
UDA colleagues of Nelson in 1988.
Teresa Slane said PSNI chief Matt Baggott owed it to her family to
"correct the injustices of the past" and bring members of the Shankill
UDA before the courts.
Mrs Slane said the de Silva made for difficult reading.
"Some of the details I was aware of but it was difficult seeing it in
black and white," she said.
"We know now that the British government and security forces, which are
meant to uphold the law, could have prevented Gerard's murder.
"The chief constable has an opportunity to do right by my family by
arresting and charging the people whose names have been known to the
authorities for the last 24 years."
Despite providing solid confirming a good deal of information about
collusion which is already in the public domain, the family of Mr
Finucane dismissed the British barrister's report.
At a press conference, his widow Geraldine described it as "a sham... a
whitewash... a confidence trick".
She told journalists in London: "This report is not the truth." and
renewed her call for a full public inquiry.
She said the British government had suppressed the truth and attempted
to put all blame on dead individuals and disbanded organisations while
exonerating ministers, serving officers and existing security agencies.
"Yet another British government has engineered a suppression of the
truth behind the murder of my husband, Pat Finucane," Mrs Finucane said.
"At every turn it is clear that this report has done exactly what was
required - to give the benefit of the doubt to the state, its cabinet
and ministers, to the army, to the intelligence services and to itself."
Examinations of the de Silva report by journalists has raised more
questions than answers as they struggle through page after page of
blacked out paragraphs.
Journalist Ed Moloney has insisted that, contrary to the report, the
threat to Mr Finucane had been documented by the Dublin and London
governments months before his assassination.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said he has written to the Taoiseach
Enda Kenny urging him to "initiate an extensive examination" of all
relevant documents to identify those which could assist the Finucane
family's demand for a public inquiry.
He said the then Haughey government had been involved in efforts to
protect the three threatened lawyers, and that reports of these
exchanges should be examined.
"The Irish government needs to shift into a higher gear in support of
the family," he said.
"A strategic approach is required that would see the government use its
diplomatic services across the globe and its influence in the USA, in
the EU and at the United Nations, where the Irish government now sits on
the Human Rights Council, to win support for the Finucane family."
The Sinn Fein leader was also dismissive of the British Prime Minister's
claim that British government ministers were not aware of the extent of
Brian Nelson's role as an agent.
"Far from prosecuting Nelson fully and in order to prevent the detail of
Nelson's role as an agent being scrutinised in court [then Attorney
General] Patrick Mayhew did a deal with Nelson. The murder charges
against Nelson were dropped.
"It was agreed that Colonel Gordon Kerr, the head of the Force Research
Unit, which ran many of the collusion operations, would give evidence
"The British Minister of Defence Tom King, who was Secretary of State
for the north at the time of the killing of Pat Finucane, provided a
letter of commendation for Nelson.
"And the British Prime Minister John Major held a meeting just before
the trial with the north's Lord Chief Justice Brian Hutton and the trial
judge Basil Kelly.
"It is clear that there was significant knowledge among senior British
Ministers about the role of Nelson, working as an agent of the British
government, and that they moved to cover it up."
In addition, a chapter of the Stevens III Report on collusion, released
separately this week under a Freedom of Information request, has
revealed that a British Army murder weapon used in the Finucane murder
was subsequently returned to the British Army (by the RUC) and
destroyed. Nationalists have demanded that the evident attempt to
destroy evidence of murder be properly investigated.
eirigi's Breandan Mac Cionnaith said the de Silva report was "a damning
indictment of British state collusion in the murder of Irish citizens",
but that it refused to acknowledge the organised, structured and
systemic nature of collusion.
"By doing so, it tries unsuccessfully to exculpate those in the highest
echelons of the British government and its agencies who sanctioned the
use of state-controlled death squads," he said.
The involvement of MI5 in a number of murders was now well known, he
"However, deliberately hidden from the public eye is the fact that,
today, MI5 continues to extend a malign influence in the Six Counties
with up to one third of PSNI personnel under its direct control.
"That fact, like the failure to allow the full truth to be told about
Pat Finucane's murder, should be a major cause of concern to everyone
concerned with justice and the protection of human rights."
>>>>>> PSNI facilitating loyalist roadblocks
The failure of the PSNI to move small numbers of loyalists from busy
public roads has brought Belfast and nearby towns to a halt for several
hours at a time this week during some the busiest days of the year.
Rush hour traffic continues to be blocked every evening by groups of
loyalists protesting against the decision by Belfast city council to
sharply reduce the number of days the British Union Jack flag flies over
The PSNI has been accused of pandering to loyalist mobs -- in sharp
contrast with their heavy-handed response to republican protests.
Some of the worst street violence for years has followed the vote to fly
the Union Jack on only 15 days annually above Belfast City Hall to mark
royal events and other commemorations, even though the move only brings
Belfast council into line with other councils in the North as well as
those in Britain.
While the violence has subsided over the course of this week, masked
paramilitaries continue to organise blockades to coincide with the
evening rush-hour. Women and children are often used to block the roads.
But most infuriatingly for commuters, the PSNI are routinely allowing
the loyalists to break laws against blocking roads and blocking
footpaths. Laws against wearing masks,
as well as more serious breaches of the peace
and acts of violence, are being ignored.
Millions of pounds has also been lost to the North's economy with
Christmas shoppers avoiding the city centre.
A small number of arrests have already been made, but it is tiny in
relation to the scale of the law-breaking involved in two weeks of
The largest crowd was seen in Belfast city centre on Saturday for a
chaotic and openly sectarian protest which saw Irish tricolour flags
burned. The protest was addressed by a British right-wing extremist Jim
Dowson and was followed by rioting later in east Belfast.
A large crowd of loyalists also closed the Peace Bridge in Derry for a
protest on Monday afternoon.
On Monday night, loyalists mounted 43 illegal roadblocks across Belfast,
and violence flared in four areas. Some schools were forced to close
and the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald was inaccessible for a short
Protests have diminished in size and number during the week, and by last
[Thursday] night the number of roadblocks had dropped to around a dozen,
and without serious disorder.
Almost all of the protests have been organised to disrupt rush-hour
traffic by blocking main roads. Most, but not all, have been advertised
on the internet.
Villages and towns have also seen one-off protests this week, including
Garvagh and Limavady in County Derry, Rathfriland, Ballygowan and
Kilkeel in County Down, Portadown and Armagh in County Armagh, Cookstown
and Magherafelt in County Tyrone, and Carrickfergus, Ballyclare, Lisburn, and
Ballycastle in County Antrim.
An SDLP constituency office in Limavady was vandalised in an expansion
of the attacks against the offices and homes of politicians. But it is
the cross-community Alliance Party which continues to be the focus of
The constituency office of Alliance MP Naomi Long on upper Newtownards
Road in east Belfast has been a regular target for vandalism and
protests. On Monday, it was the scene of a loyalist petrol-bomb attack
on a PSNI patrol car, while the nearby home of an Alliance councillor
was also attacked.
Ms Long described the violence as "fascist" and "a pogrom".
"It is completely unacceptable in 2012 that elected representatives of a
[political] party are receiving death threats, their offices being
burned, their homes being attacked, their families being threatened,"
"This is not what democracy looks like; it is not what loyalism looks
like either. It is what fascism looks like and we need to stand firm in
the face of fascism - united across these islands to say that this is
The Alliance Mayor of Larne was today
told by the PSNI to evacuate her own home this weekend amid fears of
On Tuesday, up to 100 loyalist protesters staged a demonstration outside
the offices of Limavady borough council while a meeting was
taking place inside. Sinn Fein members of the council had to be escorted
from the building by PSNI.
And in County Armagh, the husband of a Sinn Fein councillor said his bar
was left defenceless as the PSNI ignored his pleas for help. Bernard
Rafferty says a PSNI patrol initially ignored his call for help when the
Cuchulainn Bar in Armagh was attacked by a large loyalist mob at about
9pm on Monday.
Two fireworks were thrown into the popular pub and windows were smashed
by masked youths carrying Union flags.
The well-known landlord, whose wife Cathy is a local councillor, said a
tourist who was in the Thomas Street bar was so terrified that he vowed
to return south.
"He just sat there and when it was all over he said 'My God, this can't
be happening'," he said.
Local Sinn Fein representative Roy McCartney said the PSNI was
facilitating "mob rule".
"The message has to come down from Matt Baggott to stop facilitating
these protests and start policing them," he said.
At a Sinn Fein Mid Ulster selection convention on Wednesday night,
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the decision reached by
Belfast city councillors last week was a "vote for compromise" and not
a "victory for nationalists".
"Sinn Fein councillors proposed that there should be no flag flown," he
said. He said the subsequent violent protests were "orchestrated in a
very cynical way".
"Both the UVF and UDA have played a significant role in this
orchestration," he said.
"Unionist leaders, for some reason or other, may now pretend otherwise.
We have yet to hear a unionist leader question the role of loyalist
paramilitaries in all of this."
>>>>>> Unionists feud in flags blame-game
The former Ulster Unionist First Minister David Trimble has accused DUP
leader Peter Robinson of cynically stoking tensions over the flying of
the Union flag at Belfast City Hall in order to win back his
parliamentary seat in its former East Belfast stronghold from the
He said that British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers may have to issue a
decree on the issue to require Union Jacks be flown on designated days
on the North's main civic buildings.
Last week's decision to limit the number of days the Union flag is flown
at City Hall has seen direct attacks on the homes and offices of the
moderate unionist Alliance Party and other parties.
Now, a move is underway by the larger unionist parties at Stormont to
force the flying of a British Union Jack to fly over the Assembly
building 365 days a year, as a counter to the Belfast city council
decision. The plan, involving a vote by the little-known Assembly
Commission which controls Stormont procedures, is grounded on the fact
that the commission is composed primarily of unionist Assembly members.
But David Trimble said the main unionist parties had never previously
objected to flying the Union Jack on designated days only.
"I cannot avoid looking at the fact that the Alliance Party, who
provided the majority for this compromise at City Hall, is the party
that defeated the DUP in east Belfast in the parliamentary election," he
"I wonder if this is something to do with trying to regain support that
went to the Alliance Party at that stage. In which case I think it's a
really quite cynical thing for them to be doing."
The leaders of the DUP and UUP have said they will announce a new
initiative when their discussions on the unionist identity and the flags
issue are finalised early next week.
In a joint statement today, Mr Robinson and Mr Nesbitt said they "share
the stated aim of the protests to defend the Union Flag", but called
again for an end to the protests.
They said they were drawing up "a new initiative, involving people from
across the unionist community, that will chart a positive way ahead to
address many of the issues of concern that have been raised in recent
But the two parties have been accused of continuing to send out mixed
messages as they gave tacit approval for their members to continue to
attend the protests.
"We.. have indicated that if, in spite of our advice, protests are
organised by others and where our representatives are certain that a
protest will be conducted in a completely peaceful and lawful manner, it
is a matter for their own judgment as to whether or not they should
attend," they said.
While some unionist politicians have called for an end to the protests,
others have taken part. North Belfast DUP sssembly member William
Humphrey claimed to have the support of Peter Robinson in attending the
protest that resulted in the road being to traffic for over an hour.
Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP has called for
"an unequivocal message" from the unionist leaders on ending the
protests, and called for talks.
"A way forward on how best to represent and protect the identity and
symbols of both nationalists and unionists can only emerge from
cross-party and cross-community discussions. Ultimately, any workable
proposals needs cross community support."
He said these discussions need to address the meaning of mutual respect,
parity of esteem and how to ensure that symbols and emblems are not used
to promote division.
"I am confident that we can map a way forward on this basis. What we
need in the coming days is all-party discussions on this issue. Any
proposals which have the potential for moving us forward on this issue,
will require cross community support. The sooner therefore that these
discussions begin the better."
>>>>>> Nationalists arrested amid loyalist disorder
A PSNI operation against the nationalist residents of Ardoyne has
heightened tension at a time when the Six-County police have openly
facilitated loyalist roadblocks and disturbances.
A member of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) was arrested
and sent to Maghaberry prison this in connection with an unpaid fine
relating to a sit-down protest by nationalist residents two years ago.
Rab Jackson, the national vice-chairperson of the socialist republican
party eirigi, was also arrested and taken to Maghaberry.
The PSNI formally "cautioned" other residents for taking part in recent
protests against sectarian marches.
Dee Fennell, a father-of-four and a leading figure in GARC, was among 29
people who took part in a brief sit-down protest in July 2010 against a
controversial Orange Order march past the Ardoyne interface.
Spokesman for the GARC residents group Aidan Ferguson said the arrests,
coming at a time when parts of Belfast were being brought to a
standstill by loyalists, had created a lot of anger in the Ardoyne area.
It showed "if proof were needed" that the two-tier sectarian society in
the North of Ireland has not changed, he said.
"The arrest of Dee Fennell, taken from his family in the mouth of
Christmas, for peacefully protesting shows equality, fairness and PSNI
impartiality is a myth."
Both he and eirigi's Rab Jackson are expected to serve around five days
in Maghaberry for refusing to pay their fines.
eirigi's Padraic Mac Coitir said nationalists had been arrested for a
peaceful protest in which traffic had not even been blocked.
"The residents' protest in question was a totally peaceful one which was
confined to the footpaths and did not in any way impede traffic.
Nevertheless, the PSNI are now cautioning residents with a view to
charging them," he said.
"During the past week, senior PSNI officers have repeatedly said in
broadcast interview and media statements, made in relation to loyalist
protests in Belfast and elsewhere, that they would facilitate peaceful
"Those statements were made as unionists blocked roads and traffic,
organised illegal marches, engaged in widespread violence and attacked
people and property in an orchestrated series of Drumcree-style actions.
"Unionist paramilitary leaders also made veiled threats against
nationalists living in interface areas.
"Time and time again, the PSNI has shown that it uses one set of laws
for unionists and another set of laws for nationalists.
"The PSNI actions against residents in Ardoyne contrast strongly with
their inactions when dealing with unionists."
eirigi general secretary Breandan Mac Cionnaith said the arrest of Rab
Jackson formed part of a pattern of deliberate harassment against his
"It is very obvious that police forces in both partition states have
been given some sort of political direction to initiate a co-ordinated
campaign of harassment against party members and supporters," he said.
"It could well be their assessment that the various campaigns and the
extensive local activism which our members are involved in are having an
"However, this campaign of harassment and arrests will not deter our
party members and our supporters from continuing with their activism,
nor will it disrupt the party in any way.
"In fact, it will have the reverse effect - it will encourage our
members to continue and increase the levels of political work that they
are engaged in on a daily basis."
>>>>>> Labour party in crisis
The chairman of the 26-County Labour Party Colm Keaveney has called for
a special party conference amid upheaval within the organisation,
founded by Irish socialist heroes James Connolly and Jim Larkin, over
its support for a swingeing right-wing Fine Gael budget.
Mr Keaveney voted against the coalition government on the Social Welfare
Bill last night, including a range of cuts to child benefit and respite
care, and was immediately expelled from the Labour Parliamentary Party.
Despite intense public anger at austerity measures directed against the
poorest and weakest members of society, Keaveney was the only government
TD to vote against the Budget. But there have been reports of secret
disquiet among government back benche.
Meanwhile, there has been a furious response by the left-wing opposition
parties Sinn Fein and the United Left Alliance, and the independents.
The Dublin parliament has been suspended twice amid rancourous exchanges
between Fine Gael Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
In one extraordinary scene on Thursday, the Sinn Fein TD Padraic Mac
Lochlainn was refused entry to the Dail to cast his vote on the Budget,
his path blocked by Leinster House staff. On Wednesday, the Dail was
suspended for 45 minutes because the Donegal Deputy refused to obey an
order to leave the chamber by the Dail speaker, the Ceann Comhairle.
Keaveney's decision to oppose his party in Thursday night's Budget vote
took many pundits by surprise. Others said he had little choice but to
jump ship after coming under intense pressure from supporters in his
rural constituency of Galway East TD, where he has campaigned on social
Joining a sizable group of former members of Labour parliamentary party
now on opposition benches, he defended his desire to stay on as Labour
"The graceful thing to do is to honour the mandate I was given by the
grassroots of the Labour Party and I said I would honour Labour values.
It is a gift of the members of the Labour Party and not of the leader,"
"I will put myself in front of a conference if Eamon Gilmore believes
that we need an early conference to talk about the chair. I think we
need an early conference on the direction of the Labour Party."
As he ordered references to Mr Keaveney to be removed from the party's
website, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore declared his position as party chair was
Labour's Minister for Communication Pat Rabbitte accused Mr Keaveney of
"political narcissism" and "selfish acts of departure when the going
gets tough". And he insisted Labour TDs who voted for the budget had
But Mr Keaveney said he had "deep misgivings" about the social aspects
of the budget. Labour's Fine Gael Coalition partner was seeking "to
become an Irish Tory party", he said. He was strongly critical of the
cabinet 'gang of four' -- Kenny, Gilmore, Minister for Finance Michael
Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin -- who
together control economic policy under the so-called 'Economic
"They sprung an odious budget on people like me who are new to the Dail,
new to budgets," he said. "I wasn't elected for this and it isn't what I
Mr Keaveney becomes the fifth of the 37 TDs returned for Labour in the
general election to lose the party whip since the government was formed
just 21 months ago, joining Roisin Shortall, Willie Penrose, Tommy
Broughan and Patrick Nulty, all of whom have been similarly expelled.
Republican Sinn Fein's Des Dalton this week described the Labour Party
as "willing collaborators in the political and economic sell-out of the
Irish people". He called on the trade union movement to drop its
traditional strong links with the party to salvage its own credibility.
Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald said the only surprise in Keaveney's move
was the fact that "bar one" the Labour and Fine Gael deputies were
"prepared stand over this budget".
She accused Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore of making liars of his TDs because of
the budget measures.
She said the government intended rushing through cuts which, in real
terms and real time, would cause real hardship to families, children and
"They are the very sections of society that you solemnly promised
protection to," she told him in Dail exchanges.
Mr Gilmore, she said, had comprehensively made liars of his TDs,
Ministers, senators and himself.
When Leas [Deputy] Cheann Comhairle Michael Kitt said the word "lie"
would have to be withdrawn, Ms McDonald said she would substitute
"untruth" and "porky pie".
During a debate on the new property tax later, she warned the coalition
government "intends to tax people from the womb to the tomb".
She pointed to new figures which show that one in four residential
homeowners in the 26 Counties are unable to make their monthly mortgage
repayments, and said there were tens of thousands of additional
homeowners who are making the monthly payments but were doing so "at
huge personal cost".
"We cannot even begin to imagine their stress at this time of the year
as they try to make sure their kids have a half way decent Christmas,"
"So what's Fine Gael and Labour's response to this crisis? The
introduction of a property tax! You actually couldn't make this stuff
"Of course it's no skin off any Minister's nose - on a salary of 169
grand a year they are well able to pay up.
"But for the average family trying to keep their head above water this
is an absolutely devastating blow."
>>>>>> Protestants decline as 'Northern Irish' increase
The Protestant population is continuing to fall with the gap between the
two religious traditions narrowing further.
The 2011 census shows that 48 per cent of the resident population is
either Protestant or brought up Protestant while 45 per cent is either
Catholic or brought up Catholic.
The figures represent a continued decrease in the north's Protestant
In the 2001 census the proportion of Protestants stood at 53 per cent,
compared to a Catholic population of 44 per cent. Almost all the rise
in the Catholic population can be accounted for by the relatively
high rates of
immigration in recent years. Polish speakers now make up almost 1%
of the North's population.
A breakdown based on religion will not be published until next year, but
census chief Robert Beatty said the trends identified in the 2001 census
were instructive as they had highlighted an ageing Protestant community.
"If you look at the age profile of the Protestant people - those who
belong or were brought up as Protestant - in 2001 and the age profile of
the Catholics in 2001, given the older age profile of Protestants you
would expect mortality to have a bigger effect on Protestants - more
Protestants will die proportionately than Catholics," Mr Beatty said.
"And also we have the [separate] publication of the school census which
shows a Catholic majority in school-age children.
"So if you bring those two together I think the expectation would have
been a narrowing of the gap."
Other factors include migration and an increase in those describing
themselves as having no religion.
A decade ago 3 per cent of people said they neither belonged to, nor had
been brought up in, any religion but the figure has doubled with the
highest proportion of those people living in North Down (12 per cent)
and Carrickfergus (10 per cent).
Almost 6 per cent of people belong to another Christian or
Christian-related denominations while just under one per cent to other
religions and philosophies such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism.
The census also shows that just 25% of residents consider themselves
The 2011 census contained a new question on national identity which
showed that nearly as many people described themselves as 'Northern
Irish' as 'Irish'.
The census revealed that 40 per cent categorise themselves as British,
25 per cent as Irish and 21 per cent as Northern Irish.
Respondents could choose more than one national identity and of those
who did 6 per cent described themselves as British and Northern Irish,
one per cent Irish and Northern Irish and the same percentage picked all
three -- British, Irish and Northern Irish. Five per cent categorised
themselves as other.
A breakdown of the figures relating identity and religious background
should be available next year, with most interest around those who
describe themselves as "Northern Irish". It is thought this group could
be influential in any constitutional change in Ireland, similar to those
supporting further devolution ("Devo Max") over independence in
Scotland's constitutional debate.
The answers to the national identity question varied across the council
In Carrickfergus 62 per cent of people have a British-only national
identity, followed by Ards at 59 per cent.
In Derry, however, 52 per cent of residents consider themselves Irish,
as do exactly half of Newry and Mourne residents while residents of
Omagh (28 per cent), Down (27 per cent) and Strabane (27 per cent) are
most likely to call themselves Northern Irish.
The census also revealed that 59 per cent of people hold a British
passport, 21 per cent have an Irish passport and 19 per cent do not hold
Demographically, the North's population has increased by 7.5 per cent to
1.811 million since the 2001 census.
Sinn Fein has called for a border poll to be carried out in response to
Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy said there would be "claims and
counterclaims" about what the national identity statistics mean "when it
comes to the constitutional position of the north and what the
population are for or against".
"The way to have a definitive result for that question is to hold a
border poll," he said.
>>>>>> Analysis: Change comes dropping slow. Oh so slow.
By Jude Collins (judecollins.net)
One minute you're up, next you're down. Peter Robinson was just hitting
when boom! Mein gott, donner und blitzen! What kind of democracy is
this, that votes to not have a 365-day flag at City Hall? This is a
crisis, a political tsunami!.. Except. Don't the Chinese have the same
word for crisis as for opportunity? So let's send out 40,000 flyers and
blame the whole thing on Naomi Long! Perfect. We impress on the
Shinners and their fellow-travellers that we're not going to have Our
Flag tampered with and we fatally undermine your woman Long's
Westminster seat! Great stuff. Get cracking, lads.
So the lads got cracking, the back of City Hall became a bear-pit of
sectarianism and mob rule, and a wee woman stuck her face up to a broken
window and made herself part of a hilarious video that has gone round
the world. There will be a cost, of course, and not just for a damaged
gate and a broken window. Foreign firms will turn decidedly frosty at
the notion they might want to invest in a place with such obvious
nutters in it
Oh dear. How can someone as shrewd as Robinson hatch a plan with such
self-destruct potential? If he'd thought the thing through he'd have
known that as soon as you say 'Demo - back gate of City Hall,' the rest
of the script is already written. Remember when they came baying for
Niall O Donnaighle's blood? Remember the protests against the
Anglo-Irish Agreement, with the late George Seawright trying to scramble
up the side of the back gate and the air thick with curses and missiles?
Peter has lived through all that and yet he didn't see this coming. Or
maybe he thought there'd be a wee bit of violence, which'd put the
frighteners on the Shinners and the Stoops and that bloody woman Long's
Certainly limited vision seems to afflict a lot of our unionist
fellow-countrymen. Like, hasn't even one of them noticed how
irrevocably, totally and absolutely drenched in Britishness the Belfast
City Hall is? And yet it's loyalists ( a loyalist, Virginia, is a
unionist with a Rangers scarf round his mouth) who spent the past week
burning cars and pelting the police because their identity wasn't being
given clear enough expression.. Maybe go to Specsavers, lads? You get to
hoist your flag over City Hall 15 or is it 17 times a year.
Nationalists, who are probably now a majority in Belfast, get to hoist
their flag over City Hall...um... no times. Never. Never never never.
Inside City Hall there are stained glass windows to King William III,
Queen Victoria, the UDR, the RUC, a bust of Carson, your woman Victoria
out front again, all 11 feet of her. And in the city itself - clocks,
hospitals, bridges, buildings, hospitals, all bear the royal name.
Belfast is knee-deep in royal and imperial memorials. So remind me
again: whose identity is getting a hard time here?
Most shameful of all is that disorder arose because nationalists and
republicans engaged in a democratic act of decision-making. Remember
when unionists used to lecture republicans about following the
democratic political path? Last week they did just that, as they voted
in Belfast City Hall. Their reward? See above re burning cars, missiles
at cops, demented screeches of 'No surrender!' A police officer in her
car has a petrol bomb thrown inside it. Peter says 'suspend' rather than
'stop', because 'stop' would make him a tyrant. And the census figures
now suggest that in ten years' time, taigs will be in a majority in the
state. That is, if they don't join the DUP, which Peter is confident a
lot will want to do. Or should that be 'was confident'?
>>>>>> Analysis: Catholic tide can't be held back
By Brian Feeney (for Irish News)
It's not so the much the growth in the Catholic population revealed in
yesterday's census figures that raised eyebrows. After all, it was tiny,
just over one per cent, bringing it to 45 per cent. No, it was the sharp
drop in the Protestant population down from 53 per cent to 48 per cent.
Falling below that 50 per cent figure was a staggering psychological
shock for unionists many of whom still have it fixed in their head that
they amount to two thirds of the north's population.
That's the real headline, the fact that the gap between the two
communities has narrowed to 3 per cent. Given the experience of the
disgusting political dishonesty and irresponsibility of unionist leaders
over the years, reinforced by their performances over the past
fortnight, it's too much to expect that they will propose any changes to
deal with it.
On the contrary, already within minutes of the census breakdown being
revealed (and why does it take 18 months to crunch these figures for
only 1.8 million?) unionists were clutching at percentages for people
declaring themselves Irish (25 per cent) or northern Irish (21 per cent)
and speculating about the religion (sic) of people who declared no
religion. Wishful thinking. It doesn't, and won't mean they'll vote
unionist. Never have in the past and after the behaviour of the DUP and
their Little Sir Echoes in the UUP about flags, they certainly won't in
If he didn't have wind of the exact figures it looks as if Peter
Robinson had some inkling of the dramatic narrowing of the gap when he
spoke to his party conference last month. As you read here at the time
he was trying not to startle the horses by trying to convince supporters
that even if the number of Catholics was rising it didn't mean they
wanted a united Ireland. What made the horses laugh was his suggestion
they might vote unionist if unionists courted their vote. You can put
any such notion to rest after Robinson's stance about marches last
summer and his evident desperation over the flag wars his party
councillors initiated with their inflammatory leaflet.
It has all gone horribly wrong for him. If he imagined his chosen
candidate could win East Belfast the attacks on Naomi Long and her
steady, coherent, rational response to them may have guaranteed her the
seat for life. His own party members have scuppered the ploy he had
worked on of trying to separate religion from identity. Yes, of course
you'll hear DUP people harping on about how many people declared
themselves Irish as if that matters. What you won't hear until the next
election is how many Catholics declared themselves unionist. The answer,
if you want to know, is one per cent and how many of those were spoiled
votes it's impossible to say.
What all the parties will be poring over now are the figures for
electoral wards because the truth is they know perfectly well
yesterday's figures announce a huge sea change in the political
landscape which has been coming for decades. The rise in Catholic
numbers is not uniform across the north. It's like a tide coming in,
long thin fingers rippling in between rocks in some places, bigger
volumes rushing in faster to cover other parts of the beach and
eventually the water covers the whole beach except for little outcrops
like Ballymena and Larne.
What you've been watching in the past fortnight is Robinson acting the
part of King Canute with Nesbitt playing the role of Baldric, all mouth
and no trousers, trying to halt the tide of change coming in. You wait
in vain for a wee bit of political honesty, of straightforwardness, a
forthright admission that the terms of trade in politics here have
changed. Instead Robinson lets his minions in the assembly try to
inflame the situation by proposing changes to flag-waving at Stormont.
And what do they want to do? Impose their will on another political
community when the overall gap between the two communities is 3 per cent
but west of the Bann it's 80 to 20 in favour of nationalists in many
places. The logic of Robinson's inaction is to leave his fellow
unionists there high and dry as his forebears did when they shafted
their kith and kin in 1921.